Compassion Ministry as Outreach, Rev. Jim Behringer
Compassion ministry is “serving one another in love” (Galatians 5:13). The early Christian church assumed that the life of the church would reflect the love of Jesus. Jerusalem Christians expended their resources helping each other. Throughout the empire, Christians became known for their care for each other and their neighbors. Christian love embraced the weak, the helpless, the sick, the poor. The record of the first centuries of Christianity shows how powerful Christian love was in the cause of outreach in a non-christian society. Pagan leaders would write about how unstoppable Christianity was, simply because of how loving and generous Christians were.
Jesus didn’t teach compassion as a gimmick for the gospel. “Love must be sincere” (Romans 12:9). His Spirit creates agape love (Galatians 5:22) when he gives us the new life. Compassion for the needs of others flows from God’s love in our hearts.
We are rightly diligent about proclaiming law and gospel in its truth and purity. Christ’s disciples hold to his Word (John 8:31). Can we say we are equally diligent about Christian love? After all, Jesus taught that love identifies us as his followers (John 13:35). Within our church families, Christians with disabilities, isolating circumstances, and challenging trials will call forth our compassion. Compassion can move leaders to follow the example of the apostles who responded to neglect of Greek widows by entrusting compassion ministry to capable Christians to organize. In WELS, Special Ministries and Christian Aid and Relief are two resources that can guide a response.
Early Christians imitated Christ, showing compassion and sharing the gospel. Christian compassion ministry is not merely doing good to others. “Come and see!” spills from our lips as it did from Philip and the woman at Jacob’s well. While compassion ministry must be motivated by love (otherwise, it is just manipulation), true compassion desires the salvation of the soul as well as the well-being of the person. Christians will be wise in their interactions with members of the community, making the most of opportunities to invite and to tell.
This presentation will include:
- discussion on the place of compassion ministry within the congregation
- opportunities for compassion ministry to open the door to the community
- strategies for maximizing compassion ministry’s opportunities for outreach
We will touch on:
- compassion ministry in the early church
- reasons compassion ministry has returned to the life of the church
- resources WELS offers for compassion ministry
Rev. Jim Behringer
Pastor Behringer is the director of the Commission on Special Ministries (CSM) for the WELS. He has served as director since 2012. The mission of Special Ministries is to offer spiritual and practical guidance and training to congregations and individuals as they share God’s love to those with special needs or in special circumstances within their churches or community. Among the areas of ministry he oversees are disabilities, prison ministry, ministry to the military, institutional ministry, support and recovery groups, ministries to prevent child abuse or the use of porn, to train chaplains and encourage parish nursing. His emphasis has been on helping churches understand the role of compassion ministry in the life of the congregation and as an avenue of outreach to the community. Prior to serving as director, Jim has served as a District Special Ministries Coordinator in two districts, and as a member of the Mission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
He is married to Vicki, who works for the LWMS. They have three sons and daughters-in-law and six grandchildren. He is also active as a school board member at Mt Lebanon, Milwaukee, Wis., a Milwaukee Choice school. He served churches in St. Charles, Mich., Penryn, Calif., and Menomonee Falls, Wis., in addition to a brief time of service in Japan. This is his fortieth year in the ministry.